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Commissioners pursue Holt House

SLAYTON -- With a 5-0 vote, the Murray County Commissioners passed a motion authorizing Commissioners Gerald Magnus and John Giese to negotiate a purchase agreement for the Dinehart/Holt House.

SLAYTON -- With a 5-0 vote, the Murray County Commissioners passed a motion authorizing Commissioners Gerald Magnus and John Giese to negotiate a purchase agreement for the Dinehart/Holt House.

While no specific offer was discussed at first, the motion was amended to include negotiation up to the asking price of $169,900 after it became clear at least one other party was interested in the house, which is still on the open market.

"I was around when we lost it the last time," said Commissioner Bill Sauer. "I think it's something that needs to be in public ownership."

According to Dale Pavlis of Pavlis Auction and Realty, no written offers for the house have been made that he was aware of, and the house was on the open market -- only discussion had taken place with another potential buyer.

That potential buyer attended the board meeting and told the commissioners he was frustrated by the situation.

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"I love the city of Slayton. This house is an opportunity for me to raise my family in a perfect home," he said. "Dale can say what he wants -- that it is an open market -- but it's not. I was told the sellers are waiting for the county to decide."

Pavlis said as a realtor, he represent the sellers, and even though he understood the man's frustration, the house is "open game."

Several county residents appeared before the board to add comments in approval of a decision to purchase the house, which is on the Historical Register.

Gary Stoner of the Murray County Tourism Committee said the house would be a "real enhancement to the museum, with tourism opportunities that haven't been available at this point."

Others called the house as a museum a "considerable asset to the community" and "living history."

"You can see there is support in the community and in the county," said Murray County Museum Director Caryl Busman.

At both Tuesday's and last week's meetings, several commissioners mentioned they had yet to speak to anyone who was against the idea of purchasing the house.

Busman said purchasing the house would eliminate the 30- by 70-foot addition to the museum that was being planned for storage.

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"The Historical Society and others support the prospect of having the house come under management of the museum," Busman said. "The Historical Society and the museum feel it is not unreasonable to purchase the house. Now is the time to act."

Magnus reported there are grants available with a 50 percent match that can be used to update the house, add handicap accessible ramps or replace shingles, all of which would need to be done. Preliminary estimates provided by Giese showed that at least several thousand dollars beyond the purchase price would be needed to get the house ready to be a public museum.

In other business:

- The commissioners approved a motion for up to $30,000 to be spent with SEH on beginning the drawings and cost estimates on a 6,000 square foot human services building. Steve Robinson of SEH said he would like a building committee established with representation of the entities involved to find out what their needs are.

"This is not a done deal," Chairman Bob Moline said. "We're just getting some plans together. Right now, we're in the dark."

- An agreement has been reached between the board and the Legion for purchasing the Legion property for $27,500. Legion members will be able to store their flags and rifles at the fairgrounds in the old food shelf building rent-free as part of the agreement and will conduct meetings twice a year in the 4-H building for the normal fees.

Having the Legion property will give the county more breathing space for the potential human services building instead of having to place it on the same property as the old Legends building, which houses the Escape Teen Center.

The accident memorial site, which is on the Legion property, will stay intact.

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- The commissioners discussed several items with Randy Groves of the Murray County Highway Department. A bid on a 2007 Mack truck was approved for $90,485, along with a bid for a box, plow, hydraulics and installation on the truck for $59,405. The 1993 International being replaced will be put up for public bid in lieu of taking the $8,000 trade-in offer.

Bids were opened for the 7-mile project between Lake Sarah and Lake Maria on Murray County 30, with the lowest bid coming from R&G Construction of Marshall for $566,846. The engineer estimate for the project was $928,861. The work is scheduled to begin sometime in May and should take approximately 40 working days.

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